The Mediterranean Diet Roundtable Goes to the Capital

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Launched at the MDR Ambassadors’ Breakfast topics and initiatives important to Mediterranean business in America.

14 Embassies and the European Union Delegation attended the recent MDR Ambassadors' Breakfast. The MDR is the only event in America capitalizing on the brand equity of the Mediterranean Diet.

The Mediterranean Diet is testament to the common heritage shared by the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and demonstrates a link among their customs, their agricultural and food traditions - H.E. Marios Lysiotis

The Mediterranean Diet Roundtable recently hosted a meaningful “Ambassadors’ Breakfast” in the prestigious setting of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington DC, a prelude to the annual conference, planned for June 27, 2019, in the same location.

The Breakfast was attended by representatives of 14 Embassies and the European Union, food service directors of colleges and hospitals, policy-makers, importers, manufacturers and scholars, mirroring the holistic approach distinctive of all MDR events. Following an indulgent breakfast, masterfully prepared by chef Xavier Dashayes, the session was started by Andrew Gelfuso, VP of the International Trade Center.

H.E. Marios Lysiotis, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S.A. provided inspirational remarks, setting the tone for the event: “The Mediterranean Diet is testament to the common heritage shared by the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and demonstrates a link among their customs, their agricultural and food traditions. It illustrates a connection between cultural heritage and social identity, one that was recognized in particular when the Mediterranean Diet was included in the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity,” said Ambassador Lysiotis.

The Mediterranean, a “lake of cultures” is home to some of the most scrumptious yet healthy cuisines. “The importance of promoting and raising awareness on the Mediterranean Diet is evident to all of us, as members of the Group of Friends of the Mediterranean Diet, not only as a symbol of our shared heritage, but also in order to educate others on its numerous health benefits, by exchanging ideas and recommendations on ways we can work together to achieve this,” concluded Ambassador Lysiotis.

Phil Kafarakis, president of the Specialty Food Association, followed with the provocative presentation, "Developing an Appetite for Disruption." The iconic food industry leader drew a precise picture of the American kaleidoscopic market, with the concurrent food trends and cultures (vegan, gluten free, paleo, vegetarian, pescatarian, keto and beyond), positioning diet as a behavioral social challenge for a healthy population.

Enumerating the benefits of pursuing a Mediterranean Diet, such as its sustainability profile, thanks to the emphasis on the reduction of meat and the consumption of local produce, Kafarakis led the audience to better understand the “disruption” of the current approach to food and the market metamorphosis (transformation). Only a multi-layered approach encompassing ethical values, health benefits and technology, will help companies in the third Millennium to navigate this complex marketplace.

Technology will play a role of course, and MDR is launching a partnership with the WebPort Global, a division of the World Trade Center, to provide national and international companies geared towards the Mediterranean cuisines, with an opportunity to connect and trade. As Kafarakis explained, building a community is a crucial step in the new rules of commerce and customer's engagement. “The Specialty Food Association is a # 1 global resource to assist food manufacturing companies in providing an integrated suite of resources for building their business plan,” concluded Kafarakis. More information here:

All the right ingredients for a meaningful experience: thought leaders, an engaged audience, and scrumptious food will again be part of the MDR event in June. The MDR is under the aegis of the Republic of Cyprus, initiator of the “Friends of the Mediterranean Diet” group, and member of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Representative List of countries.

For program of the upcoming MDR, registration and additional information, please visit:

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Daniela Puglielli
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